A little known fact about me: I used to be scared to do anything alone. Ok, after reading my blog that’s probably a well-known fact but when I say “anything,” I mean things as simple as going to Target. That’s always kind of the barometer I use when I think of how frightened I was to do anything alone. The minute I got a serious boyfriend, I dragged him with me everywhere (including Target).
It might seem like an odd thing. It might seem like a common thing. I’m not sure. But this fear without a doubt stemmed from my having a disability. For me, going places with other people was like a shield. Literally a human shield. If I did something as simple as going to Target with a friend or a boyfriend, then maybe people wouldn’t notice my limp as much. Maybe if they did notice, they would see I had a friend with me so I must be pretty “normal” then.
It was all rooted from a fear of that thing we all fear on one level or another: judgement. I needed to have someone with me not just so other people might forget about my disability, but so I could forget about it too. I thought if someone saw me alone and subsequently noticed my disability they would think, “Oh, look at that poor disabled girl, all alone.”
Flash forward to something I read today (on tinybuddha of course). I read a list of 5 ways to help your self-esteem and one of those was to stop comparing yourself to others and start comparing yourself to yourself. Think about how far you’ve come. Reflect on the changes you’ve made in your life. So now, just a few years later, I am able to not just go to Target by myself…I go to movies by myself. I have meals by myself. I shop by myself. I do a lot of things…by myself and nearly every time I let myself feel that gratitude for how far I’ve come. I remind myself of how scared I was in the past. How I let that fear rule me and literally paralyze me into doing nothing for so long.
I may not always be able to shake off the potential judgement. Sometimes I do still worry about what people might think of me but when I compare me to the me of just a few years ago, I can see and feel all of the positive strides I’ve made and for that, I am extremely grateful. Ridin’ solo!